The Rock Cycle Game is an interactive way to learn the rock cycle and the processes that drive it. Students are given a game board, a set of cards and sentence stems and they must correctly play the cards in the correct boxes on their game board and verbally explain the process taking place in that step using an ESL friendly sentence stem. It is a great formative assessment activity to see just how much your students know about the cycle. This activity would also make for a wonderful review center. After students have worked cooperatively playing the game and learning the cycle, they are then given the student assessment page. This assures that there is individual accountability in addition to the collaborative accountability. This student assessment page also allows for a grade to be taken after the activity is over. A key is provided.
At the end of this activity the student should:
• Be able to identify the steps in the rock cycle.
• Be able to describe the processes that move rock through the cycle.
• Recognize that the matter that makes up rocks is constantly changing and cycling on Earth.
• Print boards on legal paper or cardstock (laminate – optional) so that each group of 3 has a board
• Print an equal number of card sets on cardstock (laminate – optional)
• Cut cards
• Display the sentence stems provided on the board
1. Place board in middle of group to see.
2. Stack all task cards with blue font (gray if printed black/white) facedown in a stack.
3. Pass out all other cards to group members.
4. Play begins with player 1 determining if they have the card that fits in the “Start here” box. If so, they play the card in the box and use a sentence stem to explain their play. If not, they say pass and play goes to player 2.
Note: It is very important that student use the stems to verbalize their thinking! Critical thinking increases when students have to process verbally.
5. Once the card is played and explained, the next player must play the next card in the cycle by following an arrow from that completed box to the next in the cycle. They cannot skip around on the board. If there are two arrows coming off a box, the player can choose which path in the cycle they want to go to next.
6. Play continues until all boxes are filled in.
7. Student then must flip over one of the task cards and verbally complete/explain the task/question.
• Allow students to have a notes page the first few times they play the game. This notes page might have definitions of rock and processes found in the cycle.
• Do task cards whole group.
• Print two or three sets of cards per group. They play cards on top of other cards and it shows them that the cycle never ends. This method would keep the game going a bit longer. It makes for more cutting but I think it is a great way to do the game.
• Do a speed round after students have used the sentence stems and gone through the game methodically. In this version, they are simply trying to fill in the board as quickly as possible. Again, they cannot skip around… they must follow the pattern of the cycle.
7. Earth and space. The student knows Earth’s surface is constantly changing and consists of useful resources. The student is expected to:
A. explore the processes that led to the formation of sedimentary rocks and fossil fuels.
10. Earth and space. The student understands the structure of Earth, the rock cycle, and plate tectonics. The student is expected to:
B. classify rocks as metamorphic, igneous, or sedimentary by the processes of their formation.
Earth Science – 4th Grade:
4. The properties of rocks and minerals reflect the processes that formed them. As a basis for understanding this concept:
a. Students know how to differentiate among igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks by referring to their properties and methods of formation (the rock cycle).
5. Waves, wind, water, and ice shape and reshape Earth’s land surface. As a basis for understanding this concept:
b. Students know natural processes, including freezing and thawing and the growth of roots, cause rocks to break down into smaller pieces.
Earth and Life History (Earth Sciences) – 7th Grade
4. Evidence from rocks allows us to understand the evolution of life on Earth. As a basis for understanding this concept:
c. Students know that the rock cycle includes the formation of new sediment and rocks and that rocks are often found in layers, with the oldest generally on the bottom.
Next Generation Science Standards
Core Idea - 4ESS2 Earth’s Systems
ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems
• Rainfall helps to shape the land and affects the types of living things found in a region. Water, ice, wind, living organisms, and gravity break rocks, soils, and sediments into smaller particles and move them around. (4-ESS2-1)
© Marianne Dobrovolny - www.science-lessons.org
Rock Cycle Board Game
by Marianne Dobrovolny
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
Key words - rock, cycle, matter, earth, materials, systems, weathering, erosion, soil, sedimentary, formation, change, classify